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The Blackout (1997)

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A debauched Hollywood movie actor tries to piece together one wild night in Miami years earlier which remains a drug-induced blur, and soon finds out that some questions about his past are best left unanswered.

Director:

Abel Ferrara

Writers:

Abel Ferrara (screenplay), Marla Hanson (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Matthew Modine ... Matty
Claudia Schiffer ... Susan
Béatrice Dalle ... Annie 1
Sarah Lassez ... Annie 2
Dennis Hopper ... Mickey Wayne
Steven Bauer ... Mickey's Studio Actor
Laura Bailey ... Mickey's Studio Actress
Nancy Ferrara Nancy Ferrara ... Mickey's Studio Actress
Andrew Fiscella ... Mickey's Studio Actor (as Andy Fiscella)
Vincent Lamberti Vincent Lamberti ... Mickey's Studio Actor
Victoria Duffy ... Script Girl
Nicholas De Cegli Nicholas De Cegli ... Miami Drug Dealer
Daphne Duplaix ... Fly Girl (Daphne)
Mercy Lopez Mercy Lopez ... Fly Girl (Jasmine)
Lori Eastside Lori Eastside ... That Girl
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Storyline

Matty is a film star who is tired of Hollywood life and moves to Miami, where he makes a proposal to his girlfriend Annie. She is not ready to marry him, and it is revealed that she had an abortion. Depressed because he lost his baby (though it was him who initially asked for abortion), Matty, together with his friend Micky, go on a wild night, they meet a waitress also called Annie and in the end of the night Matty passes out. A year and a half later Matty lives in New York, leads a clean life visiting AA meetings and has a relationship with attractive blonde Susan. He is still obsessed with Annie and returns to Miami, where unexpected news about Annie 2 (the waitress) waits for him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

the darkest secrets are the ones we hide from ourselves See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong pervasive drug use, language, sexual content and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | France

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

11 June 1997 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Blackout See more »

Filming Locations:

Miami, Florida, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Matthew Modine first read the script, he told Abel Ferrara that he thought it was horrifying. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Matty: [voice-over] How do you answer a question that, you know, that...
Therapist: [voice-over] Have you looked at your life, are you satisfied with what and where you are in your life? What do you want to be different?
Matty: Ah, I want to be free... of my past. I want, I want...
Therapist: Well, what comes to mind, what are your options?
Matty: That's the problem, I mean what do I, what do I do? I can't get on with my life until I... solve... my past.
Therapist: And you say you have these nagging thoughts that you did something ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Short Film About the Long Career of Abel Ferrara (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

ONE FATEFUL DAY
Written by Abel Ferrara, Joe Delia
Performed by Gretchen Mol
See more »

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User Reviews

Mood piece
27 May 2013 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

We're all stuck with narrow selves through the day, doing our best to mind our part in the noisy, incoherent narrative of life, organizing a myriad worries with one eye at the clock. At nights however, some nights, we dream, have passionate sex or watch truly mind-bending movies, drawing fresh water from the well of deep, mysterious non-self which is the great dancefloor where lovers meet their dragon.

So here's a film about a man haunted by a half-remembered night from his past, who wakes up inside a dream to find himself. The film begins and ends with shots of the protagonist in his own primordial sea, the sea of clarity and dissolved self. He is a famous actor, to stress the roles and guises of that weekday showbiz self we carry with us everywhere. A lot of time is spent around film sets and cameras.

The film is split in two very clear halves, a usual trope of films about memory since Vertigo; the long, blurry Miami night of sexual obsession and going back 18 months later. Overt drugging and boozing insert the dazedness of mind. The meta-aspects of the work involving a sex video being made and 'looking back' through cameras are thin and obvious. And Ferrara's attempt at a script-less improvised feel among the actors does not pan out in the least, not solely Modine's fault this.

My guess is that it does not pan out because Ferrara is not a genuinely curious, patient person like Altman who takes pleasure in the tentative brushing of characters, Ferrara is eager to get to the bleeding soul. I don't have to reach out to his other films to confirm this, here's a film about yearnings but only as acknowledged through an overbearing sense of misery and self-pity.

The obvious self-reference. The emotional bluntness. The shouting and partying as some acidic edge. These are all the same, short narrative distance away from the viewer. The film can be described as David Lynch films Le Mepris but all that French, Godardian baggage are as cumbersome now as thirty years prior. So in narrative terms, it is a modest failure.

And yet I recommend this to you on its power to enchant with its visual fabrics. There are all sorts of those:

1) the sex video as in-sight of our guy's hallucinative desires, and grainy handcamera footage as memory, fixing the mind. Dennis Hopper anchors this part as director, channeling both his Blue Velvet and Last Movie chaotic selves. 2) raw, cutting intimacy around the lovely Dalle. 3) warm coziness in New York, with smart usage of Claudia Schiffer as token of bloodless normalcy. 4) the b/w, Nouvelle Vague- inspired interlude at the beach.

You may settle in one or more of those. I settle in the Miami reverie, not the pleasure-seeking itself but those fleeting drive-by shots of nightlife and cloudy views from balconies, the gauzy loss of self and story. Marvelous, marvelous mood. If you mute the drama, it can sink into you.


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